If you want to know how to pay for college, you have come to the right place. Many people have aspirations of attending a college or university but feel the high cost of tuition leaves them out in the cold. The average public university charges $7,600 per year in tuition while the average private postsecondary institution costs $27,300 per year. Such staggering costs scare some students away but there are several different ways to pay for college. Some involve borrowing money while other methods include getting “free” money.
Despite popular opinion, you do not need rich parents or a large trust fund to attend college. Colleges and universities are filled with thousands of students who come from low and middle income class families who do not have the financial ability to pay directly out of pocket. So how do they pay for college?
Apply for Federal Student Financial Aid
The FAFSA is the most widely used method for paying for postsecondary education. It is free to fill out and gives you access to all forms of federal and state government funding including free grant money that does not need to paid back, need and non-need based low-interest student loans, and federal and state work study.
The FAFSA is the form you complete to see if you qualify for federal student financial aid. Financial aid comes in the form of grants, loans, and work-study. All colleges and universities use the FAFSA to determine federal eligibility. Also, most schools use the FAFSA to determine how to allocate non-federal state money to students. The FAFSA is completely free to fill out and must be completed every year. Students under the age of 24 must use their parent’s income when filling out the form although there are a few instances where that is not required.
Attend Part Time
Many students are adverse to borrowing money yet do not have the ability to pay tuition costs up front. The best solution in this case is to attend part-time so you can work a job to pay for your tuition. If you are paying out of pocket a low-cost community college is a great way to get a quality education at an inexpensive price. The average tuition at a two-year community college is only $2,700.
Volunteering at organizations like Americorps and Peace Corps is one of the best ways to pay for college because you can make a difference in people’s lives while earn receiving funding for college. Americorps volunteers can participate in a variety of activities and receive an educational award of up to $5,325. Peace Corps volunteers can receive cash as well as student loan forgiveness and deferment.
People who serve in all branches of the military are also eligible to receive funding for college. The Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill pay students thousands of dollars that can go towards tuition, supplies, and housing costs.
Join the Military
Serving your country not only teaches you character, discipline, and a variety of skills, but it also pays big dividends if you are planning on pursuing postsecondary education. The Montgomery GI Bill was put into effect by an omnibus spending bill in 1944. The bill’s purpose was to help returning WWII veterans receive financial breaks on postsecondary education. The there is also a Post 9/11 GI bill that provides veterans with free money to go to school. Each program has different stipulations but both programs provide enough money for students to go to school for free. The bills also offer a housing stipend.
Apply for Scholarships
There are literally thousands of scholarship offered by private and public organizations, college and universities, and government entities. Not all scholarships are merit based meaning that they are not awarded on based on academic performance. Many scholarships are given to students of different ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, and other non-academic categories.
The best place to check for scholarships first is the school you are attending or plan on attending. The applicant pools are much smaller giving you better odds of winning. There are also several national scholarships sights that show you how to pay, give you access to hundreds of scholarships, and help you fill out the applications.
Scholarship services are also a great way to apply for scholarships. They are completely free to use. All you have to do is fill out a free profile and they will send you links to scholarships that match up best with your background.